"That's what's most important, to not be afraid of life in any case."
Only one single moment exists, and that's the present one. The future is a figment of the imagination. When the future really happens, it becomes the present. The future never turns out the way we imagined because the person who imagined it and the person who experiences it aren't the same. Projecting into the future and delving into the past are both waste of time. The past is irrevocably gone. If we have done anything wrong in the past, we should learn from it so as to not repeat it - that's the only worthwhile remembrance to pursue. The past is quickly dealt with and just as profitably dropped.
This particular moment is the only one we can experience. When we have a whole day before us, it's like a whole lifetime. In the morning we are newly born, fresh and bright, and during that day we lie a whole life with all kinds of emotions - like, dislike, worry, disturbance, fear, anxiety, acceptance, tolerance, patience, love, compassion. They all happen in one and the same day, and if we don't make an effort also in that same day, we've wasted precious time. If this becomes habitual, we're liable to waste a good human life.
When we become aware how often the "I" gets in the way of our happiness, we will very likely become disenchanted with it and see that it is really not worth having around. This "I" is constantly creating thoughts and emotions which disturb our inner peacefulness.
Disenchantment with the "I" is the first step toward letting go of our identifications and is bound up with effort. Even the effort itself is already a step in that direction. Whenever we give ourselves wholeheartedly to any wholesome action, the "I" shrinks.Both quotes from Ayya Khema, in Be an Island.
is there a general disease we could call hyperactivity of defining and labeling? and do we lose meanings in the progression? perpaps what we call disease, sickness, illness is nothing but the way of nature to balance. i mean surely many of us have heard that so called blind people (or others who lack one sense) have their other senses better developed in return. but are we interested in what their amplified sensory perception tells them about life, about us? or is it much more so that we have learned to define people by what they seemingly lack and then we stay with that definition, because ít´s more comfortable? my work with people who have dementia has lead me to the opinion that they do not lose something most important, but rather they regain something very important, namely the human ability to feel deeply. as far as i can see they develop a fine sense wether other people (e.g. we who are with them) are real, authentic. and they also develop something we all were capable to as children: the unwillingness to be not real, to be not authentic...honest. btw, yes, they work with me, too, maybe more than the other way around. only i get the money - Doris
I just visited my 98 year old mom. She lives on the Alzheimer's unit of Coventry Park in SF. The lessons of mindfulness have helped me enormously to even have a sense of humor when with her and the other residents. Staying present and not worrying about the future are most important lessons...as well as finding a glimmer of humor - Ed
I agree about the gifts of dealing with Alzheimer's. My grandmother, who I am mainly responsible for, has it, and she has become so much mellower and more present than she ever was before. There is no choice but to be totally present with her, to let everything else go.... - Jess
I am reading through some of the Alzheimer's tagged posts, am eager to read more soon. This one made me cry. I suppose my heart is especially open this week, and especially to this... It is hard, it is painful. I feel gratitude to live so close to my grandmother now (she's in a retirement home near me) and to be part of her life. "It is that clenching in the most tender of places that creates so much of our unnecessary suffering." Beautiful... Such a good reminder, that I can stopping fighting my grief about various things and just allow the tender-heartedness. So hard sometimes - Jess
Thank you Marguerite for your timely article. It is a confirmation of my experience with my Mother who made her transition in 2005 after 13 years with Alzheimers.. It was a joy to experience the release of some inhibitions of her former personality and to be present with her in her now moments. She was more affectionate, MORE FULLY HUMAN in the middle stages of AZ, than at any other time of my experience of her as my Mother - Deborah
so often we don't stop to take people into our hearts and hear their stories. There's a beautiful woman at my mom's assisted living facility who always dresses to the nines - she's a sweetheart, 92 years old. She "crashed" a party we held there for my mom's birthday - my husband engaged her in talk and allowed her to stay when the facility staff came to tell her it was a private party. Apparently she tends to wander into other people's parties, but I think it was her way of connecting... There are many comings and goings at the assisted care facility - I am sure many of the residents there also know who's died and left or who's been taken away by ambulance. I try to say hello to the "regulars" when I come to visit my mom. It's not quite hospice, but as I've been a more frequent visitor it strikes me that here too, death is ever present and there's a tallying of staff changes and resident changes - Lori
It is easier for me to detach with non-family members -- when my mom says something odd and seemingly disconnected it can be very disturbing. But then I remind myself to come back to center, and be with her, and give her all the compassion I can muster. With an elderly friend, her demented ramblings were often a fun romp through time and space - of course her children didn't have the same perception - Tara
Yes, reminds my of my grandmother who went through this. So sad to see. It's hard to be with someone who doesn't recognize or remember who you are. It definitely brings up questions about what we really are. The person is still there, but many memories aren't. Is the person any less than what they used to be b/c of this? - Nate
yes this reminds me of the time I spent with my dad who had dementia before he died. You had to be prepared for anything (or nothing) when you went to visit. And to listen and offer what you could, as you point out. It was definitely an uncomfortable feeling driving toward the hospital. And then just being there for the visit. Always such good teaching. Disturbing sometimes. It reminds me of something my friend the Zen monk used to say, "be willing to be disturbed." - Carole
My dad also went down this road, noticeably changing over a ten year period. Dealing with my own sense of loss, realizing the extent of the comfort and support, my own dependency on what was being lost, was the first hurdle. For him, witnessing his own mental competency slipping away and maintaining a sense of self-worth seemed to be most difficult, at least in the beginning - 'Smiling Heart'
Thank you for you poignant, beautiful and cutting post. It cut through to the heart of the matter for me. It cut through all the judgement and impatience that I sometimes well up with when I realise that my dear mum just plain forgot or misunderstood or whatever the conversation we had. Whenever I have to go over and over things with her. Thank you, as I have spent time my self on many occasions been lost in mind agitations and fog, unable to meditate, sleep nor read. But somehow through my own inability to link the two together, I never thought of my dear mom and what she must be going through and what I put her through... "the importance of not setting her up" is foremost on my mind! - MiroMay you all be well, and at peace, and at ease, and filled with joy in the midst of suffering, yours and that of your loved ones.
I just started this new practice. I call it the 'first time' love practice.
Imagine relating to your loved one as if you were meeting him or her for the 'first time'. Mind untainted by memories, good and bad from past encounters. And free of expectations regarding how things should and should not go between you two. Leaving all your baggage behind. Being totally present for each shared moment as it unfolds second after second.
New time, new experience. I look at him with virgin eyes, and I listen to him with open ears. As if meeting him for the 'first time'. Present moment as only reality. He's leaving his things behind, also. Fleeting thoughts come and cloud my view for a short while, and I brush them away, remembering they do not belong to now. Same with familiar feelings that threaten to weigh me down, if I am not careful. The desire to meet him is stronger. And I say to myself, the first time mantra, over and over, until I see him clearly, and I hear him well, again.
I have tried the other way before, and it hasn't worked. All that baggage was wearing me, us down.Of course, sticky mind does not give up that easily . . . Since the time of my post, I have encountered many moments that felt like old moments.
The ordinary, untrained mind has a quality of stickiness. It keeps remembering old hurts and resentments, comparing the past to the present, and hanging on to its dissatisfactions. [or creating future that perpetuates the illusion of control and power!] We believe all the thoughts and projections that fill our minds. A mind like ours seems to have a fence around it and within that enclosure all understanding takes place . . . We should be cautious about the thoughts we think during the day, because they have no true found foundation; they are ego-based projections of our desires and habits. They do not touch upon absolute reality. This doesn't mean that we abandon them right away, but we treat them with caution. They're simply old habits, not commendable in themselves, not conducive to peace and happiness . . . Whatever we use as our personal identity constitutes our prison. Letting go is freedom.
~ from Ayya Khema, in Be an Island ~It's good to notice when the 'I' takes over . . . Only then can we start slow process of disengaging from it.
In one of Ajaan Lee's last Dhamma talks he compared life to taking a boat across an ocean. The problem out on the ocean is that there's no fresh water. For most of us meditation is like stopping in a port, picking up some fresh water, and putting it in the boat. Then we go out to sea and discover that we've run out of water, so we have to go back to port. As a result we don't get very far. If we're not careful, the winds will blow us away from the coast, and we'll find ourselves without any water at all.
In other words, when we meditate we pick up a good sense of ease, a sense of inner refreshment. It's like stocking up on water. But then we take it out and we pour the water out our eyes and ears, all over the place. So we have to come back, meditate some more, get some more water — back and forth like this. We never really stock up on enough water to take us across the ocean. So an important lesson we have to learn is how not to pour the water out. What this means is learning how to maintain your center with the breath, inside the body, even when you go outside and deal with other people. This is one of the big issues in any meditator's life.
. . .
The trick, as Ajaan Lee says, is to have a little distillery in the boat so that you can take the salt water and put it into the distillery, to turn it into fresh water. Then everywhere you go you've got fresh water. In other words, no matter where you go, you're right here: centered in the body, with your awareness filling the body. You're not leaving the body unprotected and you're not using up all your energy in those false outside defenses. You're creating a sense of energy here in the body, a sense of refreshment, and it's protecting you as well. This way you can travel around the world because there's salt water everywhere. If you've got the skill, you can turn it into fresh water — as much fresh water as you want.
So as you leave meditation, it's important that you watch to see: How does the mind move? How does it go flowing out your eyes and ears into the space outside your body? If you catch it and bring it back in, how is it going to complain? There's going to be a sense of fear, or a sense of uncertainty about trying to stay inside. In the beginning you may feel unprotected. Don't listen to those voices. Those are voices that took over your mind when you were a little child and didn't know anything. That was the best you could do at that time, but now you've got more skills, better skills, more understanding.
Learn how to reason with those voices: "Here's a good solid place, a good safe place, a secure place to be — right here inside the body — and you're operating from a position of strength." And just that much is not only a gift to yourself, but also the people around you. They'll sense the difference as well, and it makes your interaction with them a lot easier.
So learn to have some trust for this sense of being inside the body. The awareness that fills the body, the breath energy that fills the body, can protect you in a lot of ways. It can provide the nourishment and the refreshment you need at all times. At the same time, it develops a momentum in the practice. If you keep on creating all the water you need, when you have more than enough, you can share it with the people around you. Your sense of what it means to interact with people will change — will be a lot less fearful — and your sense of what it means to be refreshed will grow deeper and stronger.
~ from Thanissaro Bikkhu's Dhamma Talk, on Social Anxiety ~Staying grounded, in the breath and the body, always, whether walking, standing, sitting, talking, eating . . .
If we want a realistic relationship with ourselves that is conducive to growth, when we need to become our own mother. A sensible mother can distinguish between behavior that is useful for her child and that which is detrimental, but she does not stop loving the child when it misbehaves. This may be one of the most important aspects to consider in ourselves. Everyone, at one time or another, misbehaves in thought, speech, or action - most frequently in thought, fairly frequently in speech, and not so often in action. What do we do with that? What would a mother do? She would tell the child not to do it again, reassure the child of her continual love, and get on with the job of bringing up her child. Maybe we can start bringing up ourselves.
~ From Be an Island, by Ayya Khema ~
There are many aspects to humility.
Humility is not the same as false humility. Some people are upset towards themselves because they have such a low opinion of themselves. This can get reinforced by negative comments from others.
We don't try to be humble. Instead we try to understand all the ways in which we are conceited or arrogant. And we look at what happens when we let go of arrogance, and the painful feeling of contraction of self.
Being humble is no longer comparing oneself to anybody.
Being conceited about being less than others is also another form of conceit.
Shyness is a form of conceit. We are getting caught in concern with our self-image, and sense of self. We can work through it by being very mindful so that we don't get pushed around by our shyness, or any other sense of self. We look at it very clearly. The minute we start looking at it, we cease to be it. Who are you? If we are looking at the looker, there is no one left. As we keep looking, in steady and clear fashion, it no longer makes sense to be weighed down by sense of self. All is left is just being. The Buddha refers to himself in very unsubstantial ways. "I am such". "The One who has come thus." A beautiful thing in meditation is to be present, without association to any concept.
Another way is to understand our limitation as a human being. Being mortal, means we are going to die. We doing a great disservice to oneself when we are very successful and capable. Ideas of self we have are magnets for attachments, fear, greed, and hate. This does not mean that we are not important, only that we should not take ourselves as so important.
You cannot make yourself humble, but you can make yourself honest. 'Humility occurs when love of truth is greater than love of self.'
A great source of inspiration is seeing humility in others.
"Rage can release the wounded woman, for her wound has a burning center that stings and hurts. Some women repress the hurt and the anger that goes with it. And then that anger turns inward, perhaps in the form of bodily symptoms or depressive suicidal thoughts that paralyze their lives and their creativity. Others let their rage out, but run over people in the process. In their hurt, they hurt others. No matter in which direction the rage goes, it is unfocused, unformed, and explosive. But it also carries powerful energy which, if utilized well, could release their potentiality as women. Rage can be a central force fro redeeming the father and transforming the feminine . . .
The rage needs to be recognized and released before it can be transformed . . .
How can the wounded woman connect with such powerful rage instead of being threatened and terrified of it? And how can she transform the rage into creative energy? In my experience, there are at least two stages: first getting the rage out and then transforming the power of the anger into creative energy . . .
Quite often the wounded woman is afraid of the fire and energy raging within . . . Letting the rage out into the open with a burst of feeling can actually limit rage by releasing it. For rage can be an act of assertion that sets limits and establishes identity by saying, "I won't take any more of this!" Confronting the suppressed rage with rage . . .
Ultimately this expression of rage needs to be not only forceful but formed and focused effectively as well. And this conscious awareness of one's energy and how one wants to use ti may keep women from making those original false promises that keep them helpless. In learning to relate to their rage, they may raise the level of consciousness about the unresolved cultural rage which at worst leads to war and persecution . . . When women begin to become conscious of their rage, then the responsibility extends to giving it form and shape . . . The way to get access to all that energy is to wait patiently and approach it indirectly . . . To form the raging energy, it is necessary to gain access to it in its nondestructive aspect so that one does not become possessed by it. To do this takes patience and knowledge, i.e., waiting until the right time and knowing what that is . . . Knowing what is behind the rage is very important. And this takes conscious differentiation - differentiating from the experience of the rage and differentiating the various elements of the rage. That takes sorting out what part of the rage is the unsolved anger of the father, and what belongs to the woman herself and to the situation . . . To sort out what part of the rage really belongs to you and how much is the other person's, or the unsolved rage of the parent, or even the rage of the culture is an enormous task . . . Part of the forming is being able to contain what is to be formed . . . Containing the energy and forming it means not dissipating it in formless rage but asserting it creatively. And this might happen in a political act, a work of art, raising a child, relating, and most of all in being, in the quality of one's life.
Ultimately, the transformation of rage results in a strong woman who with her creative energy and feminine wisdom can contribute to her growth of herself, others, and the culture."
~ from 'The Wounded Woman' ~
|Green Gulch - Path Through the Gardens.|
"The traditional version of the Pure Precepts is "Renounce all evil, Practice all good, Keep the mind pure, Thus have all Buddhas taught." . . . One way that Suzuki-Roshi translated them was, "With purity of heart, I vow to refrain from ignorance. With purity of heart, I vow to reveal beginner’s mind. With purity of heart, I vow to live, and be lived, for the benefit of all beings." . . . The Pure Precepts also are related to Right Effort, the sixth aspect of the Eight-fold Path. The traditional meaning of Right Effort is one’s endeavor or energetic will to abandon unwholesome states and to develop wholesome states. Wholesome states are those which have what in Buddhism is referred to as wholesome roots. The three unwholesome roots are greed, hate, and delusion, and so their opposites, non-greed or generosity, non-hate or lovingkindness, and non-delusion or wisdom are the roots of wholesome states. In Buddhism, volition, or the mind with which we act, determines whether an action is "good" or "bad," wholesome or unwholesome, rather than the activity itself being inherently good or bad . . .
~ Josho Pat Phelan, 'Taking and Receiving the Precepts', Part 3 ~
"I would like to beg you, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, some day far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answers."
~ as quoted by U Jotika, in 'Snow in the Summer' ~I needed that wisdom . . . Rilke helped put a halt to my need to figure things out.
Because of our thoughts we experience something more intensely. So when we stop thinking and just become aware of it we don’t really feel anything anymore. What I mean to say is that, things don’t have intensity anymore. Even with pain, say you have pain in your knee when you are sitting and meditating; the more you react the sharper it becomes. When you stop thinking about it and just be in touch with it, without trying to do anything, not trying to overcome it, not interpreting it, just being with the pain, after a while you feel that the pain becomes vague; it is not as painful as before. Our thinking process makes the sensations stronger. When you stop thinking and just get in touch with it, it becomes so vague, that we feel that something is missing. We want to take hold of something. For example, if you have a big round ball, can you hold it with one hand? You cannot. It is a big round slippery ball. But if you put a handle on it you can grab it by the handle. The name, the tag, the interpretation is just like the handle. With the handle we grasp things very strongly, we won’t let it go but, without that handle everything is slippery, you can’t hold to it. When you stop thinking, you get in touch with it, you can’t grasp anything anymore. It becomes slippery and vague, that is the way it should be.
. . .
When you experience pain, as long as you can be with the pain to endure it, see how your mind reacts. This is a very important learning process. Buddha gave a very deep and profound teaching, “although my body is in pain my mind is not in pain” (~SN iii.1). This is something you should practice! We cannot really get rid of all the pain in our body. As you grow older and older you know that you have to live with pain. People have arthritis; there is no way you can run away from pain. If you take too much medicine it will destroy your liver, kidneys and many other things. If you want to take medication it is ok; that is not what I am saying. For normal pain it is not going to hurt you very much, so, try to be with the pain and see how the mind reacts. In some cases, we try to move not because the pain is unbearable but because we are restless. We move because we are not in the habit of being in touch with the pain. When you feel pain, without thinking of pain, without even using the word pain, although in the beginning you can use the word pain, but I have noticed that when you use the word pain it becomes more painful, because you are interpreting it as ‘pain’. Pain is something that you don’t like. So automatically you react to the word pain. If you stop using the word pain and just get into the pain, be with the pain, you’ll find that it is very interesting, your mind can stay there for a long time. Some of my friends, who are very scared of pain, don’t want to meditate because they think it will be very painful. Slowly and slowly they have learnt how to meditate and after a while they come in touch with the pain and stay with it, and found out that it becomes very interesting. They get absorbed in the pain. If you are willing to be with the pain, it is not so unbearable; if you are unwilling it becomes more and more unbearable. It is the way that your mind looks at experience. Whenever you feel pain, be with it, it will not kill you, actually. When you find that “this is my limit” and I can’t really go on sitting like this anymore, move very slowly, move a few millimeters and see the pain getting less, the whole experience, and the mind also. When the pain gets a little bit less your mind becomes a little bit relaxed, “Oh… It is nice now… feeling better now”, then move a little bit again; feeling better now. Move again, and then you find another position where you don’t feel pain anymore, you feel happy, you feel very relaxed and then you continue to meditate; sitting for an hour or sometimes even for two hours.
We think that there is some sameness all the time, something that is always there. This is the way we create continuity in our mind. Thoughts create continuity and they create this idea of sameness. When we totally stop thinking and become mindful and concentrate and pay attention to whatever is happening right now, we see that something is arising right now. It was not there before. It is right now.
~ U Jotika, 'A Map of the Journey' ~
"'Grief is of two sorts, I tell you: to be pursued and not to be pursued.' Thus was it said. And in reference to what was it said? When one knows of a feeling of grief, 'As I pursue this grief, unskillful mental qualities increase, and skillful mental qualities decline,' that sort of grief is not to be pursued. When one knows of a feeling of grief, 'As I pursue this grief, unskillful mental qualities decline, and skillful mental qualities increase,' that sort of grief is to be pursued. And this sort of grief may be accompanied by directed thought & evaluation or free of directed thought and evaluation. Of the two, the latter is the more refined. 'Grief is of two sorts, I tell you: to be pursued & not to be pursued.'
~ Sakka Panha Sutta: Thanissaro Bikkhu' s translation ~
In some books I read about mental states and consciousness and wisdom and they say that you can change your anger into love; that is impossible! You cannot change your anger into love, into metta, you can’t change dosa (hatred, aversion) into metta; dosa arises and passes away as dosa. Loving kindness (metta) arises as loving kindness and passes away as loving kindness; it cannot change its nature. Its unique, natural characteristic does not change. It only arises and passes away; that is why it is impermanent (anicca). There is a lot of confusion even among meditators about this point; some people think that they can change one thing into another. In a definition of anicca they say that paramattha does not change. There is a Pali sentence that says that paramattha does not change. Some people are confused about the meaning of this. If reality, paramattha does not change it means that it is permanent. No, it doesn’t change its nature, but it arises and passes away. Arising and passing away, impermanence and not changing nature does not contradict. This is a very important point especially for those who are potential teachers.
~ from 'Map of the Journey', by U Jotika ~To be contrasted with Ayya Khema's view on same topic:
Some [feelings] are pleasant, some are unpleasant, some are neutral, but our reactions don't have to be preplanned, impulsive, instinctive. We can look at them with mindfulness and put the brakes on. Substitution is much easier than just dropping what is in the mind. Although dropping is the perfect way to get rid of clinging, it is more difficult because it is a letting-go aspect. In the beginning, substitution is a necessary response . . . When aversion, rejection, resistance, anger, jealousy, pride, greed, or craving arise within, we can take a moment to look at them mindfully. When we recognize their burdensome impact on us, we understand that we need not continue to let them exist. We can substitute compassion, or the idea that they are not important, or the understanding of impermanence, or corelessness. This is particularly true of anger, which makes life so very unpleasant for oneself and others. When we get angry with a person, we can ask ourselves first of all, "What am I getting angry at? Is it the hair, the nose, the eyes, or what? Am I getting angry at his words? If it is really unpleasant speech, it means the other person is unhappy. "Why should I get angry, then? Why can't I be compassionate?" If we can change our anger to compassion, we will feel good, the other person will feel good, and we will have taken a step forward on our spiritual path.
~ from 'When the Iron Eagle Flies', by Ayya Kkema ~And also Mingyur Rinpoche:
If emotion is too overwhelming, 1) go back to other objects of meditation, such as sounds, smells, forms, breath, etc . . . or, 2) make a different emotion, eg, anger instead of panic (gossipy neurons will join anger group instead of panic group)
~ my notes from Rinpoche's recent Joy of Living Retreat ~
"Furthermore, when going forward & returning, he makes himself fully alert; when looking toward & looking away... when bending & extending his limbs... when carrying his outer cloak, his upper robe & his bowl... when eating, drinking, chewing, & savoring... when urinating & defecating... when walking, standing, sitting, falling asleep, waking up, talking, & remaining silent, he makes himself fully alert. And as he remains thus heedful, ardent, & resolute, any memories & resolves related to the household life are abandoned, and with their abandoning his mind gathers & settles inwardly, grows unified & centered. This is how a monk develops mindfulness immersed in the body."
Sustained application counteracts skeptical doubt. When we can stay with the subject of meditation and do not become distracted, we gain confidence through the experience that, first of all, it is possible; secondly, that we are able to do it; and thirdly, that the results that accrue are exactly as the Buddha said. Until then, doubt arises again and again in the most insidious ways. Skeptical doubt is the enemy of faith and confidence, and therefore of practice; the mind can provide all sorts of ideas, doubts and excuses - "There must be an easier way," or "I'll try something different," or "I'll find a better teacher or a better monastery," or "There must be something that will really grip me." The mind is a magician: it can produce a rabbit out of any hat.
Skeptical doubt shows itself when we cannot fully immerse ourselves in our present situation. Skeptical doubt keeps us back, because we are afraid to lose control of self-importance. When we have a little personal experience of the results of the Buddha's teachings, our doubts are counteracted, yet not completely eliminated. At least we no longer feel unsure about practicing meditation. We have experienced results and we have also realized that it makes no difference where we practice, as long as we are steadfast. That, too, is important, because we can search for a perfect place, time, situation, or teacher until the end of our lives and never find any of these because skeptical doubt always intervenes.
~ When the Iron Eagle Flies: Ayya Khema ~How does doubt manifest itself in your practice?
There was a time when I believed that “I” was deciding something, particularly when it came to the major things like dropping out of high school, going to college, quitting a job, dating a boy…I would employ all sorts of analytic methods for arriving at a logical decision, but in the end, it was always made at more of a gut level. Because it felt right. There is no doubt that mind and heart work in conjunction with the big questions in life, but in the end I’m not sure that anyone is actually making a decision. It just happens. Conditions line up, there’s cause and effect, things happen, conditions change, other things happen.
The noting in vipassana meditation should be continual and unremitting, without any resting interval between acts of noting whatever phenomena may arise. For instance, if a sensation of itchiness intervenes and the yogi desires to scratch because it is hard to bear, both the sensation and the desire to get rid of it should be noted, without immediately getting rid of the sensation by scratching.
If one goes on perseveringly noting thus, the itchiness generally disappears, in which case one reverts to noting the rising and falling of the abdomen. If the itchiness does not in fact disappear, one has of course to eliminate it by scratching. But first, the desire to do so should be noted. All the movements involved in the process of eliminating this sensation should be noted, especially the touching, pulling and pushing, and scratching movements, with an eventual reversion to noting the rising and falling of the abdomen.Eventually sleep found me in the early morning, shortly before I was to wake up.
Concentration is the proximate cause for the unfolding of wisdom. This fact is very important. Once the mind is quiet and still, there is space for wisdom to arise. There can be comprehension of the true nature of mind and matter. Perhaps there will be an intuitive insight into how mind and matter can be differentiated, and how they are related by cause and effect. Step by step, wisdom will penetrate into more and more profound levels of truth. One will see clearly the characteristics of impermanence, suffering and absence of self; and finally insight is gained into the cessation of suffering.
In reality, if there is awareness, wisdom will arise. However, if the awareness is too focused, then wisdom does not have a chance to arise. That is why you should not force, focus, control, or restrict the mind. Have no expectations about your meditation. Do not be discontented with your meditation. Be aware of all that is happening, all that is passing away. Do not try to make anything disappear. Do not forget . . . Please do not choose objects. All objects are dhamma nature, dhamma phenomena. You cannot hold onto any object with lobha. Do not perceive object or experience as good or bad. No object or experience is better than any other. Objects are just that: objects. They are to be known—that is all.Ajahn Chah recognizes two different types of persons - one is naturally inclined towards concentration practice, the other towards insight,
Some people have insight and are strong in wisdom but do not have much sam¯adhi. When they sit in meditation they aren’t very peaceful. They tend to think a lot, contemplating this and that, until eventually they contemplate happiness and suffering and see the truth of them. Some incline more towards this than sama¯dhi. Whether standing, walking, sitting or lying, enlightenment of the Dhamma can take place. Through seeing, through relinquishing, they attain peace. They attain peace through knowing the truth, through going beyond doubt, because they have seen it for themselves. Other people have only little wisdom but their sama¯dhi is very strong. They can enter very deep sam¯adhi quickly, but not having much wisdom, they cannot catch their defilements, they don’t know them. They can’t solve their problems. But regardless of whichever approach we use, we must do away with wrong thinking, leaving only right view. We must get rid of confusion, leaving only peace. Either way we end up at the same place. There are these two sides to practice, but these two things, calm and insight, go together. We can’t do away with either of them. They must go together.Three great teachers. Three different takes . . .
"Monks, these four types of individuals are to be found existing in the world. Which four?
"There is the case of the individual who has attained internal tranquillity of awareness, but not insight into phenomena through heightened discernment. Then there is the case of the individual who has attained insight into phenomena through heightened discernment, but not internal tranquillity of awareness. Then there is the case of the individual who has attained neither internal tranquillity of awareness nor insight into phenomena through heightened discernment. And then there is the case of the individual who has attained both internal tranquillity of awareness & insight into phenomena through heightened discernment.
"The individual who has attained internal tranquillity of awareness, but not insight into phenomena through heightened discernment, should approach an individual who has attained insight into phenomena through heightened discernment and ask him: 'How should fabrications be regarded? How should they be investigated? How should they be seen with insight?' The other will answer in line with what he has seen & experienced: 'Fabrications should be regarded in this way. Fabrications should be investigated in this way. Fabrications should be seen in this way with insight.' Then eventually he [the first] will become one who has attained both internal tranquillity of awareness & insight into phenomena through heightened discernment.
"As for the individual who has attained insight into phenomena through heightened discernment, but not internal tranquillity of awareness, he should approach an individual who has attained internal tranquillity of awareness... and ask him, 'How should the mind be steadied? How should it be made to settle down? How should it be unified? How should it be concentrated?' The other will answer in line with what he has seen & experienced: 'The mind should be steadied in this way. The mind should be made to settle down in this way. The mind should be unified in this way. The mind should be concentrated in this way.' Then eventually he [the first] will become one who has attained both internal tranquillity of awareness & insight into phenomena through heightened discernment.
"As for the individual who has attained neither internal tranquillity of awareness nor insight into phenomena through heightened discernment, he should approach an individual who has attained both internal tranquillity of awareness & insight into phenomena through heightened discernment... and ask him, 'How should the mind be steadied? How should it be made to settle down? How should it be unified? How should it be concentrated? How should fabrications be regarded? How should they be investigated? How should they be seen with insight?' The other will answer in line with what he has seen & experienced: 'The mind should be steadied in this way. The mind should be made to settle down in this way. The mind should be unified in this way. The mind should be concentrated in this way. Fabrications should be regarded in this way. Fabrications should be investigated in this way. Fabrications should be seen in this way with insight.' Then eventually he [the first] will become one who has attained both internal tranquillity of awareness & insight into phenomena through heightened discernment.
"As for the individual who has attained both internal tranquillity of awareness & insight into phenomena through heightened discernment, his duty is to make an effort in establishing ('tuning') those very same skillful qualities to a higher degree for the ending of the (mental) fermentations.
"These are four types of individuals to be found existing in the world."
~ The Buddha: Anguttara Nikaya AN 4:94 ~Makes perfect sense, doesn't it?